Film 🎥 by Gunnar Curry shot on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center for the opening night of my audio/visual show, “Chicago Lights”. Performers featured in this mini film include Theatre Director and actor, Anthony Moseley, Cabaret star the Duchess Darling Shear and Vocal Performance Artist, Kiara Lanier.
I photographed Don Gibson; musician, singer, songwriter and bouncer, in Logan Square, a trendy and artistic area of Chicago. I had only been in touch with him by email before we met and I was struck by how calm, quiet and gentlemanly he was. He chose to do his shoot in front of the inspiring wall art in the area.
Here is lovely Don’s interview:
I’m from Brooklyn, New York and I’ve been in Chicago since 1997. I work at Double Door, which is a music venue as security. I have played numerous venues in Chicago, such as Schubas, Double Door, Gallery Cabaret, Old Town School of Folk Music, Elbo Room, Fitzgerald’s.
When I’m playing, I feel a sense of fulfillment that reaches down into my soul, which I rarely feel from anything else, except for a few things here and there.
Music is like a religion to me. I’ve always felt a passion for it. Whether I’m listening to different arrays of music, or playing my own, I’ve always felt that the mysteries of life can be revealed in a well written song.
I started playing when I was around 19 or 20. Always a student of the craft. That’s the exciting aspect of playing an instrument. There’s always something else to learn. I started singing when I was in school chorus.
No one in my family really inspired me to sing, but it was always encouraged to have something creative to do.
I do write my own songs and I enjoy the challenge of writing songs that are very visual in nature, while having a rough acoustic sound as background. I do enjoy singing other people’s songs, but I work more from my original stuff.
Me: What brings you joy Don?
Don: Hmm… Walking in the rain with my headphones on…. Reading a good book with a whiskey at my side…. The feeling of acoustic strings against my slightly blistered fingers while I’m strumming for my life… Finishing a song that has been constantly calling and evading me in my mind for a long time… The Yankees winning the World Series…
I met fabulous Amee Binder back in the Spring. She is a choreographer, dancer, producer and performer! We took these photos at Uptown Underground, where she also works as Bar Manager. This is a woman of many talents and irrepressible charm! It was an absolute joy to photograph her.
I asked Amee some questions about her life as an artist and her inspiration and here she is in her own words:
I wear a few different hats, I work as a choreographer and dancer with “Kiss Kiss Cabaret”, I also Produce a Public Access TV Show that I perform in – “Late Night Binder”, and I am Bar manager for Uptown Underground, which is the home of “Kiss Kiss Cabaret”.
I have always loved dance, I started very young and then got distracted by other aspects of performance and theatre, as well as other types of athletics like basketball, track and field. But with every musical track that I found inspiring I was always choreographing something in my mind, before I really even knew how or what choreographing was. Once I moved to Chicago in 2004 and started navigating through the performance world and different opportunities a big city has, I always found myself looking for things dance related. So I got myself back in some classes and just kept on with it. The Television show I produce is called Late Night Binder, it’s a Variety show that airs on Chicago’s public access TV station called CAN TV. Its very cheesy and silly, it’s super fun to do and hopefully fun for people to watch as well! We shot the first episode last July, so almost a year ago! We have done 3 episodes and we are currently on pre-production of the the 4th. The shows all have lots of dance, as well as stand up comedy, sketch comedy, singing, magic, faux product placement and clowning.
Performing and creativity is something I will always need in my life, it makes me feel happy. Success and failures are equally rewarding for different reasons and being able to use your imagination is a gift I’m super grateful for.
My performance style is for sure 40’s/ 50’s inspired, but usually with a modern twist. I have found lots of inspiration with the classical movies that had major focus on elaborate dance numbers with amazing showgirl vibes, like Singing In the Rain, Les Girls, Ziegfeld Follies, Easter Parade, and the Shirley Temple movie, all of which are filled with great, over the top ensemble numbers! I also find inspiration from pop culture. I like to keep things new and fresh but still with a bit of old Hollywood glam, stylized movements in the vein of Bob Fosse, or homage to the classy eye high kick of the Rockettes.
I get nervous about answering questions about the future in performing. It’s such a day by day thing. I try to be grateful and present for when things are going well. And I suppose similarly for when they are not going so well, so hopefully I can learn how to do better for the next go around. But I will say I hope the future holds more creativity than I know what to do with, and that people I am surrounded by are loving and kind.
To see Amee in action, please click on these links! Enjoy!